As well as writing features I also write reviews for Tap! and thought I would share them with. Back in issue 4 I reviewed the brilliant Inkpad from Steve Sprang (creator of Brushes). Inkpad is a fantastic vector illustration app for the iPad. For those not in the know, vector images are made using shapes and lines to create paths, rather than colouring in pixels, and these paths can then be manipulated using anchor points to create precise shapes with defined edges. These are perfect for creating logos or technical drawings, as they can then be scaled in size easily without any loss in quality because they are based on mathematical data rather than on pixels.
Inkpad shares a lot of the same basic functions as pro-level vector drawing apps like Adobe Illustrator and it’s path creation and manipulation tools will be familiar to any experienced Adobe Creative Suite users. If you aren’t familliat with paths and anchor points you may find creating shapes somewhat tricky at first, but with it’s simple interface and easy to use tools though, should soon get you drawing with a bit of practice.
For more experienced users though, creating paths in Inkpad is incredibly intuitive – especially using a stylus. Drawing on screen, rather than using a mouse or graphics tablet on your desktop, makes you feel much more involved with your artwork when creating pictures (literally getting hands on with your drawing) and allows you to enjoy the fun of creating rather than worrying about the obsessive positioning of your anchor points.
As well as basic drawing functions, Inkpad has several of the advanced functions you would associate with pro level apps. For example you can merge and slice multiple paths in order to make different shapes. You can colour those shapes using editable gradients and you can even add and edit text – however as with all design apps on the iPad you are limited to only the available Apple fonts. You can also import pictures from the Photos app to use as inspiration or even source material for your pictures so you could sketch out a rough in Brushes then transfer it over to Inkpad for some tidying up. For more complex images you can also create images with multiple layers and these can then be isolated for ease of editing. However, like Brushes, the ordering of these layers cannot be shuffled and so some forethought is required when creating artwork.
Once you’ve finished with your illustration you can export images to the Photos app, or send them to a Mac or PC via email or DropBox. Files can be exported as JPEG, PNG, PDF or SVG (an open source XML format which can be opened and edited in Illustrator) and so work can be continued on your Mac with ease.
When it comes to some pro level features though, Inkpad is missing a few vital functions For example it lacks some of the mathematical finesses of it’s computer based siblings. With only 7 possible page sizes available when creating new documents, making bespoke artwork will not be easy, especially as it does not have a measuring tool or info palette for working out exact dimensions. Also the grid which you set up for your artwork can only be measured in points, not centimetres or inches, and so using this for some complex image making may not be a realistic option.
With all that said though, one must remember that Inkpad costs a mere £2.99 so any quibbles about what it does or does not do must be kept in perspective. What it does it does brilliantly and that is to aid the creativity of it’s user by making the most of the iPad’s potential as a creative tool for creative people. It frees up the creative process and allows you to get on with the fun of making images and for that it must be regarded as an absolute essential app for any creative person to have in their collection.
“A pro quality app for less than £3! This is an absolute must-have for anyone creative!”